Monday, August 31, 2009

What do you want to wear to school ....?

Did I just say that? Aiee!!

The German tradition for the first day of school. The thing Jr.Gopher #1 is holding is a Schultute. It's filled with goodies. Apples, colored pens, candy, more apples, more candy, a "Cars" water bottle, more ... well, you get the idea.

So, Jr. #1 is now enrolled at the Twin Cities German Immersion School. There are 2 German immersion schools between LA & NYC. St. Paul and Milwaukee. Nope, not even Chicago does (which, the German Consul there says is disappointing). It only took 20 minutes to get there this morning, which is a stupendous relief. I'm still not sure how we're going to manage school transportation combined with Jr.Gopher #2 and then getting me to school.

If only the Light Rail was already built out to St. Paul.
Or if only the U had cheap parking on the St. Paul campus.
Or, if only the Metro had a park & ride somewhere in St. Paul

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Parenting skills

[playing more catch-up on posts]

.... Don't work on adults any more than they work on 2 year olds. If I were Rep./Sen. Gopher, I would have a completely different tack on this civil disobedience at political "town halls". Admittedly, political couth or not, Frank gets my appreciation for calling a spade a spade.

When I taught chemistry to college students, one tool for regaining control of rowdy people's attentions was to simply stop talking. Step back, lean on the blackboard, cross my arms, and affect a posture of patient yet annoyed tolerance. It usually took a minute or two. And after the first time, the interested students would encourage silence. Only once or twice in two years did I ever throw a student out of the class room.

I wonder if the middle-aged not-conservatives who were rabidly protesting in the 60s with sit-ins and the wonders of modern civil disobedience are hesitating about their response to this version of it. Perhaps they're simply surprised that (as Agriculture-Dick @ MayDay would put it) Right Wing Lunatics would take a page out of their play book and use this form of political protest. Are the liberals thinking "hey, that's our system!"

Quite sincerely, I think this is the first play in the RNC's plan to re-create the Republican Party. The first step is to separate your members from the Others. [a fantastic discussion of the psycological function within political identity and the creation of "Elitist Liberals" by the Republicans was on MPR a couple weeks ago. I think this is it.] This provides a very appealing scenario about which everyone is passionate.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Brave New World

Brave New World bravely going where it's never gone before?

A utopian casting for an idealistic Dystopia? Ridley Scott doing Brave New World would definitely get me to go. I can only hope that they don't put filler in the plot. The bare story line is appealing.


Thursday, August 27, 2009


Google: dickipedia

1st hit: Sarah Palin
2nd hit: Michelle Bachmann

now, I realize that the media hand-pick photographs to suit the tone of their reporting. Check out Chancellor Merkel - anything that tries to paint her as a hard-ass has her looking like one; anything that tries to highlight her needing to compromise with the other pariets has her looking a bit confused like "what the hell am I doing here?"

But seriously, I've never seen an attractive picture of Rep. Bachmann. So - either she's inherently unattractive, or the media realizes what a total and complete fruit cake she is. .... What a pity her constituency hasn't.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gone Fishin'

[written last Friday]

The boys' daycare field trip was to Lake Minnetonka this morning. It's just west of Minneapolis. Yes, one of those 10,000 lakes. There was a Fish-a-Thon our neighbor kids participated in. After discovering that the boys had never gone fishing, Ms. Tonja decided she was going to correct this deficiency. Getting the boys out of bed and out of the door by 6 a.m. was a bit of a challenge. As Jr. Gopher #1 commented, "It's too dark to get out of bed!" I didn't want to explain that this would be his lot in life as of Monday the 30th.

Jr. Gopher #1 caught 2 fish and wasn't too thrilled with the catching part. He had fun while dangling his line in the water, but not reeling the big catch in.

Jr. Gopher #2 caught 3 fish, and had a blast. He had a Barbie-fishing pole. Maybe the fish were attracted to pink?

Both Jr. Gophers & The Girl Next Door got a boat ride. Much more #1's style. It was a pontoon boat, offering a very stable ride where they could stand up.

Being catch-and-release, we didn't have a fish dinner.

It wasn't quite the Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay kind of day. Cold and rainy not being the sort of weather to deter fishing, they went anyway.

for the wonders of visual special effects, which don't require my brother's skills ....

the photos of Gopher #2 have the same fish.

You can go home

[written a week ago ...]

"you can never go home" is a rather overly-sentimental statement. You can. Just don't expect it to still be there.

I'm in Lansing for the weekend to try to get some house-related stuff taken care of. Want to do property management for me? Taking bids until 10 p.m. Sunday night.

The house is not exactly left in idea condition. Ignoring the fact the yard crew didn't remove the clipping from 2 months' growth, there's stuff that I'm annoyed the last tenants didn't ask me to fix. Or rather, that they didn't fix themselves. Like some serious pruning on the shrubs. I stood looking at the back of the side yard and wondering where the forest came from. That is the result of four years of unfettered growth? Mankind's traces will disappear from the Earth pretty damn quick, apparently.

Most of my closest friends aren't here any more. The Speths moved to MO, Diane is in MA, the Denommes are somewhere else in MI, the Bradys are just out of town. And, apparently no one bothered to return my email that I was coming into town. I'll probably stop by St. Johns and find the choir on vacation.

I've never tried to hire a professional firm for a long-term contracted relationship before. Other than the yard service fellow who conveniently lived down the street. Mowing my lawn just doesn't seem quite as important as handing someone the keys to my house and telling her to find tennants and rent it for me. Apparently these firms either
a) refuse to modify their standard contract because they are lazy
b) refuse to modify their standard contract because they're really out to screw you
c) have never had anyone suggest modifying their standard contract
d) have no idea that you could do it and don't want to anyway

There's even more sprawl on the north side of Lake Lansing Road. What in the world for? Even four years ago, it wasn't like Lansing's economy was rosy. Firms were already threatening to pack up. The state bent over to keep GM from moving some of its operations elsewhere.

The GM plant at the intersection of MLK and 496 is a total wasteland. I practically expected to see dust dervishes and tumbleweeds coming across the empty acres of parking lots. And, yes, I really do mean acres, probably 2.

Construction hasn't changed - it's just moved.

It was 10 hr 6 min of driving time (not total, just behind-the-wheel) to get to Lansing. Apparently everyone in Indiana saw the sign I-80 and thought it was the speed limit. It made the trip much shorter to be able to set the cruise control at 80 and not be the fastest car on the highway. And, afterall, doing 80 in a 70 zone in Michigan is not a remarkable event.

People here [in Michigan] really don't use their turn signals. Maybe American models don't have them? I've only ever owned one American car, and it was a '53 model. In the first 50 miles into Michigan, only one car used its signals ... and it had Indiana plates.

Don't even vaguely get me going about the Right-Wing Retards in Indiana, whose response to the Loony Leftists objecting to public display on public property of the 10 Commandments-We-Selectively-Obey: putting In God We Trust on their friggin' license plates.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Extreme weather in Minnesota:

coldest temperature I've ever experienced:
Jan 2009

closest to path of a tornado:
2 blocks west of Portland Ave.
This afternoon

Apparently max. damage between 35th & 51st Street.
Photo is at 41st & Portland.
The tornado went up Portland to around where I was, popped up and hit right at downtown. Someone got interviewed on the radio who saw the funnel cloud in Downtown. Pretty awe-inspiring. I've never tried writing a term paper in the tornado shelter of a library with no electricity. Do you think my prof will give me bonus points?

WASPs @ 6Gs

A feel-good story on this gloomy, depressing morning. Pres. Obama has decided to honor the (remaining) members of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs). One of whom lives here. At the end of her interview, she described the day the Air Force agreed to let her go up in an F-16 (it implied at an air show, cause they don't have them here at Ft. Snelling). Yeah, one of those "waaaaay faster cooler than a B-26" planes.

When she was 72 years old, she asked the military if she could fly the F-16 as a co-pilot. Her request was granted, and she flew with a male pilot over the skies of Duluth. She took over the controls mid-flight. [presumably with his permission-HG]

"I said, 'I'll just do a gentle turn,'" she said. "I did 6 Gs. He said, 'Take it easy. I don't have a brown bag.' I said, 'You can take mine. I don't need it.'"

Strohfus said she's glad to finally receive recognition for her achievements, but then she paused, grinned, and said, "The award is nice, but heck, I just like to fly airplanes."

aaaah ... now that's the sort of woman I see in a fighter plane.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

29% plus

The top 100 beach blanket books, according to NPR. I've read 29 of them (in bold) - and several (in blue) are on my "next time I'm lounging on the beach/Bavarian Alps/Minnesotan Lakeshore/... ..."

1. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
4. Bridget Jones's Diary, by Helen Fielding
5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
6. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells
7. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
9. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg
10. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver

11. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
12. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
13. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
14. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
15. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
16. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
17. Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett
18. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
19. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
20. Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen

21. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
22. The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver
23. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith
24. The World According to Garp, by John Irving
25. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
26. The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy
27. Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel
28. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
29. The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler
30. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

31. A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
32. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
33. The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant
34. Beach Music, by Pat Conroy
35. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
36. Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier
37. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
38. Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry
39. The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough
40. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon

41. Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
42. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
43. Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice
44. Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier
45. Empire Falls, by Richard Russo
46. Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes
47. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
48. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, by Tom Robbins
49. I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb
50. Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie

51. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
52. The Stand, by Stephen King
53. She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb
54. Dune, by Frank Herbert
55. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
56. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
57. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
58. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
59. The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
60. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith

61. Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver
62. Jaws, by Peter Benchley
63. Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner
64. Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
65. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
66. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
67. The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand
68. Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut
69. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
70. The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler

71. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
72. The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy
73. Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns
74. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
74. Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe [tie]
76. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
77. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
78. The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher
79. Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver
80. Eye of the Needle, by Ken Follett

81. Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck
81. The Pilot's Wife, by Anita Shreve [tie]
83. All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy
84. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
85. The Little Prince, by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
86. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
87. One for the Money, by Janet Evanovich
88. Shogun, by James Clavell
89. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
90. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera

91. Presumed Innocent, by Scott Turow
92. Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger
93. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
94. Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris
95. Summer Sisters, by Judy Blume
96. The Shining, by Stephen King
97. How Stella Got Her Groove Back, by Terry McMillan
98. Lamb, by Christopher Moore
99. Sick Puppy, by Carl Hiaasen
100. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Healthy Gopher's recommendations not already mentioned above, in no particular order: Mind, this is for "beach blanket" reading. Infections and Inequalities and The Great Influenza aren't here, no matter how good they are.

A. Gorky Park (and Polar Star), Martin Cruz Smith
B. Cerebus the Aardvark (definitely the first 2 volumes), Dave Sim
C. The Queen's Man, Sharon Kay Pennman
D. 1984, George Orwell
E. Animal Farm, George Orwell
F. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
G. Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
H. American Gods, Neil Gaiman
. The Autobiography of Malcom X, Malcom X
. Memory, Lois McMaster Bujold
. Face of a Stranger, Anne Perry
. Playing for the Ashes, Elizabeth George
. Some Danger Involved, Will Thomas
. Industrial Hygiene Control of Airborne Hazards ... just kidding
. The Manga Guide to Statistics, Shin Takahashi ... not kidding

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

felonious orchid sales

I make no claims as to the validity of what is written in this posting. I merely bring it forward that the list of felonies is rather amusing. In the midst of a paper on gun-control as a public health issues, I don't really care if they're legal, since that isn't the point I cared about here. The commentary came with the article

    Selling orchids without a license. The importation and selling of orchids is a violation of the Lacey Act and is a felony.

    In Mississippi, it’s a felony to sell untagged oysters.

    Shipping lobsters and lobster tails in opaque plastic bags instead of paper bags. David McNab, a seafood importer was convicted of violating the Lacey Act and is currently serving 8-years in prison.

    Under West Virginia law, it is a felony to teach a bear to wrestle.

    Under Ohio law, it is a felony to send spam, or unsolicited email advertisements. While I hate spam as much as the next guy, should it really be a felony?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

3rd Quarter Update

This time I went though IMdB's coming soon page, which is infinitely more useful than others I've seen...

Hmmm... maybe I'll need to turn on my Netflix subscription for the Summer & catch up?

Still out there in the T.C.
  • Up: come on, it's Pixar!
  • Half-Blood Prince: heard mixed reviews about its plot coherence for those who've not read the book. But, it can't be too bad.
  • Drag Me to Hell: Sam & Ivan Raimi - how could I pass it up?
Opening this week:
  • District 9: illegal aliens in a new light. Blomkamp apparently switched from doing CGI to directing movies for Peter Jackson. I suppose STFU&GBTW could have a mid-stream career change?
  • It Might Get Loud: because I'm over 40 and still like the music I listened to 30 years ago.

Coming Soon(er or Later) to a Theater Near Me:
  • Capitalism: Michael Moore - not always fantastic, but always funny
  • Shutter Island: diCaprio & Scorcese in general are enough attraction to go see it, though the creepy-crawliness of it seems to traipse over the suspense/horror line: once you get somewhere creepy-crawly, are you really, really sure you'll be able to get out?
  • The Serious Man: Coen Bros. & Minnesota

  • The Answer Man: Jeff Daniels
  • The Road: assuming it ever gets released
  • Cold Souls: Giamatti's extracted soul goes missing on the Russian black market
  • Shanghai: John Cusak. Only reason I need.
  • 2012: well, hmmm ... guarantee-see doesn't mean guarantee-quality
  • Little Ashes: well, maybe the typical art-house film
  • A Couple of Dicks: Kevin Smith - like Cusak, what other reason do I need?
  • Avatar: well, if it drew STFU&GBTW out of LA to NZ, it might be okay ... although I'll need to see the previews to see if it falls into the pile w/ Freddie v. Jason or Mars Attacks
  • Lovely Bones: Horror's not really my thing, so Peter Jackson isn't an automatic must-see; but it's got Mark Wahlberg & Susan Sarandon

Already gone, but not forgotten
- this is why DVDs exist
  • Moon: Space 2001 a la 2009
  • Primer: due to Steve's recommendation
  • Appaloosa: Mortenson & Harris in a re-match sounds good. Add Jeremy Irons, and it's a definite. Harris - god, he's prolific!
  • The Lucky Ones: intriguing plot
  • Frost/Nixon:
  • Cadillac Records:
  • The Betrayal:
  • City of Ember: Bill Murray is a serious negative. Even in the previews, he looks like the comic relief. There isn't supposed to be any comic relief. It's a dark story of childhood's ending and questioning the status quo. The book was wonderful.
  • Pride & Glory: Edward Norton
  • Revolutionary Road: I'm totally cold to the whole Titanic re-match; the plot is what sounds intriguing: the insane self-delusion of the 1950s
  • Milk: Sean Penn is consistently great. Jake Gyllenhaal & Heath Ledger aren't the only masculine straight men who can be gay on screen
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • Defiance: due to Liev Schreiver, not Daniel Craig
  • The Mysteries of Pittsburgh:
  • Sin Nombre: just one of those 'hmm interesting' eye catchers

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Donald Does Deutschland

There is an interesting article in Der Spiegel about American propaganda films during World War 2, specifically Donald Duck. I knew I'd seen The Fuehrer's Face before, although I have no clue where. It is, of course, out on the Internet happily ignoring some of the stupider aspects of American copyright laws. Both are about 8 min.

It's at:

The other film the article mentions, Donald Gets Drafted, is at:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

[def.] Controversy

You want controversy? Forget gay marriage. Try mandating [city] composting.
-- Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco

Creative Capitalism

A Minneapolis mail carrier exemplifies the ideals of entrepreneurial spirit.

"... postal inspectors placed an undercover surveillance camera in Dolan's postal vehicle, and observed him smoking from a glass pipe and selling drugs along his postal route."

... he "spontaneously stated that there was methamphetamine and marijuana in the vehicle,"

... Dolan admitted smoking methamphetamine but denied selling drugs while working. He also told police he planned to quit smoking meth."

This last point is like saying "the check is in the mail". And, I guess the mail man is the one who would know.

Sure, it's amusing, but I doubt it would have made such a splash if the first sentence of the article wasn't:
" ... has charged Paul J. Dolan, 53, the brother of Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan..."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

[def.] stupidity

Hassanzadeh told Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam television that the three were arrested "four days ago and are being interrogated."

He told Fars that the detainees had Syrian and Iraqi visas and that "they have made no confessions yet."

I guess this means we need to notify reassure their families that water-boarding isn't really torture, it's just interrogation.

[def.] Knowledge

Additional research based knowledge of the costs imposed on people ....ref.1

I cannot imagine a chemist or physicist (or industrial hygienist) writing this sentence. How does one make any claim to anything in a scientific peer-reviewed journal if it isn't researched based? I suppose the assumption excludes personal opinions and the editorial section.

I've seen this several times in this course's readings. It's even defined somewhere in the text. It's the social science method to claim scientific validity for a subject most physical scientists don't think is science.

(ref.1) Warner, et. al. 1995. Criteria for determining an optimal cigarette tax: the economist's perspective. Tobacco Control, 4, 380-386.

I have read & understood

Seriously, do you ever read - or even look at - the Terms and Conditions when registering with a website for free access? Or even prior to signing up for a fiduciary relationship, like Amazon?

If you do ... are you lying when you indicate you actually understand it?